Photo by Kyle West / McMaster Athletics

Rams fall to Gaels in Forsyth Cup semifinal

By Adam Jenkins

HAMILTON — The Ryerson Rams men’s volleyball team dropped a five-set heartbreaker to the Queen’s Gaels in their Forsyth Cup semifinal, 3-2 (20-25, 18-25, 25-17, 25-19, 9-15).

BOXSCORE

Burridge Gymnasium, the Mecca of Ontario university men’s volleyball over the past six seasons and the site of next weekend’s 2018 Men’s Volleyball Final 8 Championship, played host to the Rams and the Queen’s Gaels in first OUA semifinal on Friday night.

On the line: a berth in the Forsyth Cup championship game and the national championship.

It was the rubber match between the Rams and the Gaels. The two schools split the season series, with each squad sweeping the home game. Ryerson also took down Queen’s 3-1 (38-40, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23) in their very first preseason game of the year.

Prior to the game, four Rams were recognized and presented with OUA honours: Lucas Coleman, Adam Anagnostopoulos, Brendan Kewin, and Navreet Suhan. For a full break down of the awards, click here to view the full press release.

After the pre-game festivities, the first serve flew courtesy of OUA East First Team All-Star, Adam Anagnostopoulos. It was a back-and-forth first set that saw Ryerson keep within striking distance, but the Rams couldn’t seem to find an upper-hand.

The same could be said for the second set, as Queen’s continued to hit the ball well on offence. They delivered a .329 hitting percentage throughout the first two sets, led by Zac Hutcheson’s 13 points—a game-high after the first two periods.

"We came out really tight and didn’t trust the things [that] got us to this point," said Rams associate coach Adam Simac after the game. "After that, we carried each subsequent mistake on our shoulders and by the end of the second set it became a huge burden."

A very different Ryerson team took to the floor for the make-or-break third set. Their game improved tremendously and was played with a lot more precision and efficiency.

"Tidy up our side and play free. You have to be willing to be aggressive and compete for each and every point," added coach Simac when asked what his message was to the group following the second-set loss. "We need to play in the moment and play each point like it’s the most important point - win or lose, learn, and get ready for the next point."

Led by OUA East Player of the Year, Lucas Coleman—who would go on to lead all players with 30 kills on 63 attacks—the Rams battled back. Improving on their team attack percentages from the first two sets, from .282 and .208 to .344 and .382 in sets one-through-four respectively, they sent the semifinal to a fifth-and-deciding set.

Unfortunately for the Rams, they were not able to carry the momentum over to the tiebreaker. Their team attack percentage plummeted to .143, and they weren’t able to return to the stellar form that led them to the fifth set.

Coleman took home Player of the Game honours for Ryerson.

The Rams season is not yet over as they will play in Saturday's bronze medal match. They will take on the Windsor Lancers, with the winner also advancing to the national championship, as McMaster is hosting the tournament but has already qualified as an OUA finalist.

"With the right result tonight in the other match we still have a chance to achieve our long-term goal [that] we set at the start of the year,  which was to medal at nationals," Simac concluded. "The guys need to get a good meal in them, get some treatment, and get some rest because tomorrow we have to fight all over again."

The first serve of the bronze medal match will fly at 5:30 p.m. from Burridge Gym in Hamilton.

You can tune into the live webcast on OUA.tv, or follow along on our social media channels, @ryersonrams on Twitter and Instagram for live updates.

This article was updated on March 9, 2018 at 11:15 p.m. to include post-game comments and results from the second semifinal. 

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